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Friday, September 17, 1999 Published at 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Uzbekistan accuses Tajik opposition

The Uzbek foreign minister has accused the Islamic opposition in Tajikistan of supporting the hundreds of guerillas who are still holding hostages, including four Japanese nationals, in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

The minister, Abdulaziz Komilov, said the guerillas' commanders were receiving advice from a leading member of the Tajik opposition, Mirzo Ziyoyev, but that their leaders were in the Taleban-controlled parts of Afghanistan.

The Tajik opposition has already denied similar accusations by the Uzbek media and the BBC Central Asia correspondent says Mr Komilov's comments mark a new stage in the crisis. Earlier, the Kyrgyz foreign minister, Muratbek Imanaliyev, said that the guerillas were motivated by financial gain rather than politics.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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